SACRAMENTO - Three members of an anti-government militia were indicted by a federal grand jury on charges they plotted to blow up two huge propane tanks south of Sacramento last year.
Named in the indictment, which has been expected since federal agents uncovered the alleged plot in December, were Donald Rudolph, 43, former head of the San Joaquin County Militia; and members Kevin Ray Patterson, 42, of Camino and Charles Dennis Kiles, 49, of Placerville.
They were charged Friday with conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and conspiracy to use a destructive device.
Patterson and Kiles have been jailed since their arrest last December on lesser weapons, explosives and drug charges. Rudolph is in a federal prison in Taft. He was sentenced last fall to 30 months in prison for possession of a machine gun.
The three will be arraigned on the new charges on May 8, federal prosecutors said.
Federal agents say the men plotted to blow up a massive propane storage site in the Sacramento suburb of Elk Grove. The site's two tanks together hold about 24 million gallons of liquid propane.
The tanks are a few hundred yards from Highway 99 and about a half-mile from a subdivision.
According to an affidavit filed by federal agents to obtain a warrant to search Patterson's and Kiles' homes last year, the men hoped blowing up the tanks would force federal authorities to declare martial law, leading to social unrest that would eventually topple the U.S. government.
A search of the two men's homes uncovered more than 50 firearms, 50,000 rounds of ammunition and about 30 pounds of fertilizer that could be turned into explosives, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jodi Rafkin said last year.
The maximum penalty for conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction is life in prison. The maximum penalty for the other charge is 20 years.